Tottenham Hotspur finished 10 points above the relegation zone last season, after failing yet again to break in to the top 4, an ambition that is voiced at the start of every season.
So, why is it that they’re failing so badly?
It surely has nothing to do with the fact they sold on Steed Malbranque (37 appearances last season), Paul Robinson (37 appearances last season), Younes Kaboul (29 appearances) and Pascal Chimbonda (49 appearances last season).
No no, it’s all to do with the “greed, mismanagement, egos and selfishness” of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane.
Terry Venables, the washed up former England and Leeds United manager, who in his 16 year long playing career won one League Cup and one FA Cup, and who in his 27 year long managerial career has won one league title (in Spain) and one FA Cup, has got on his soap box today and laid in to Berbatov for a few quid from The Sun.
Bulgarian strike ace Berbatov kept telling us he had a ‘dream’. Well, good for you Dimi, you had a dream with a few extra noughts added to your bank balance. But don’t you think Spurs had a dream too? Don’t you think that when they bought you and helped you blossom into one of the best strikers in the world, you had a duty to reward them by helping them fulfil THEIR dream.
You got your way but your poisonous presence at the start of this season — the pouting, the brooding and the reluctance to play — has cost the club that believed in you. And what about the team-mates you left behind, how do you reckon they feel now?
Dimitar Berbatov gave two years of his career to Tottenham Hotspur, signing for them on the promise that they would be challenging for a top 4 position. Now 27-years-old, Berbatov doesn’t haven’t time to sit and wait around, hoping that the rest of the team can pull their finger out and do their share of the work, after all the goals he’s scored. Spurs haven’t broken in to the top 4 and even with Berbatov, there’s no way this current Spurs outfit would be getting anywhere near one of those Champions League spots.
Berbatov had a dream to play for Manchester United and to play Champions League football, both more important than his bank balance. After all, if our new striker was just interested in money, he would have at least called City back and hear what they had to offer. He didn’t want to know though, because they weren’t Manchester United and they couldn’t offer him Champions League football.
The seasons before Spurs signed him, he’d scored 24 and 26 goals per season, including 5 goals in the Champions League in 2005. What did Spurs have to do with his blossoming? If anything, they held him back!
People compare this situation to that of Cristiano Ronaldo, but it just doesn’t weigh up to me. Ronaldo wanted to swap one club for another and whilst Real Madrid would have paid him more, I don’t think this was his motivation. However, as a Champion of England and of Europe, he wasn’t being held back at United. Berbatov was being held back though, being denied the opportunity to play alongside and against the best talents in the World in the Champions League. With Spurs finishing 5th the season before, the club will have talked the talk, insisting it wouldn’t be long until they were playing in the competition for Europe’s elite. It never happened though.
There are so many victims in all of this — not least the 36,000 who turn up every other week at White Hart Lane and who dared to dream just like Berbatov did. The only winners are the ‘Big Four.’ For it is the super powers such as United and Liverpool that turn players’ heads and, in the process, leave lesser clubs crippled.
Of course, Venables, it’s only the top 4 who turn player’s heads, isn’t it?
“We are obviously going to have to deal with a lot of speculation,” said Paul Ince in June. “But as far as I’m concerned, I want David here next season and I’m looking forward to seeing him on 7th July for pre-season training.”
During the same week, Blackburn chairman, John Williams, confirmed that they did not want David Bentley to leave, despite his pleas. “There is only one player who has publicly stated he would like to leave,” said Williams. “Mark Hughes has said before, with my support, ‘no you can’t’ to David Bentley.”
A month later, Bentley was revealed as a Spurs player. So, is Bentley a greedy bastard? Does he not care about Blackburn’s dream? Are Spurs bang out of order for signing a player the club didn’t want to sell?
Let’s face it, career wise, Spurs are a step down from Blackburn, finishing four places behind the north west club last season. However, Spurs would be able to offer more pay than Blackburn, so if anyone is concerned about their bank balance, it’s Bentley, not Berbatov!
For most clubs, there’s always going to be another club that is bigger or better than yours, which will offer your players more benefits that your club can. It might be trophies, it might be a bigger bank balance, it might be football from a division above, it might be football in Europe, but in most circumstances, there will always be somewhere that appeals more to your players.
For Bentley, the London lifestyle and inflated pay packet appealed more than anything Blackburn had to offer. For Berbatov, the chance to play for Manchester United and in the Champions League appealed more than anything Spurs had to offer. That doesn’t make Bentley the bad guy, or Berbatov. In ordinary life, us normal people move from job to job, seeking better pay, more perks, improved job satisfaction, and nobody bats an eyelid. I realise the two situations aren’t directly comparable, as I don’t have 70,000 people singing my name when I do something well at work, all investing their time and energy in supporting me.
I don’t think club-hopping is a wise move, and nobody likes to see one of their best loved players looking for a way out, but essentially, if a player can improve their career, either with trophies or salary, should they be held personally responsible for the failure of the club they leave behind?
Ol’ Venables is just a whinging bastard who needs to get a grip of reality. If Blackburn were scraping around the bottom of the table, with just 2 points from a possible 18, then maybe one of their old managers could be picking up a few quid from a trashy tabloid slamming the behaviour of Bentley. As it is, we have to listen to this wideboy mouthing off about our player. I can only imagine how far he’ll go when Spurs get relegated this season…